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Padilla lawyers urge appeals court to overturn terrorism conviction

[JURIST] Lawyers for convicted terrorism conspirator Jose Padilla [JURIST news archive] argued Tuesday before the US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit [official website] that their client's conviction [JURIST report] should be overturned. Padilla's appeal centers on a number of purported judicial errors [Miami Herald report], most prominently the lack of an evidentiary hearing to determine if Padilla was being tortured while in custody, as well as the decision by trial judge Marcia Cooke to allow the government to show a videotape of an interview with Osama bin Laden as evidence of a link between Padilla and his two co-defendants. Prosecutors countered that Padilla's 17-year sentence [JURIST report] for a crime that is punishable by life imprisonment is too lenient [Philadelphia Inquirer report. It is not known how soon the appellate judges will reach a decision.

Padilla was sent to a Colorado "supermax" prison [JURIST report] in April 2008 to serve his sentence. He was convicted, along with Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifadh Wael Jayyousi, of conspiracy to commit illegal violent acts outside the US, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, and providing material support to terrorists. Padilla, a US citizen, was arrested in 2002 at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport and subsequently detained as an "enemy combatant" [JURIST news archive] at a Navy military brig in Charleston, South Carolina. Initially alleged to have planned the explosion of a "dirty bomb" in the US, Padilla went from enemy combatant to criminal defendant when he was finally charged with other offenses in November 2005.

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